Friday, June 30, 2006

La Costa Ave Expansion?

Guest Commentary by Herb Patterson

We all understand how city staff and city councils can make mistakes, we are human too. But how can a city fail to even begin to plan or budget for something deemed necessary when the city was founded and documented ever since ? That's what the City of Encinitas has done.

The stretch of La Costa between I-5 and 101 has always been planned to be a four lane developed highway from the inception of the city. This is again brought out in the North Highway 101 Specific Plan adopted in 1997. This plan comments that based on 1990 information, there were already intersections operating at less than the City's preferred Level of Service [LOS] C. Recent traffic counts show the average daily trips [ADT] are increasing by roughly 12% a year this without the impact of the nine planned projects directly impacting the area, the Carlsbad Ponto Project or the I5 expansion.

The City staff has covertly realized the problem and attempted to force Shea Construction to build a signalized intersection at Vulcan and La Costa, but calmer voices prevailed and only a modification of the Vulcan lanes was required. Both the City's and the developer's money would have been wasted when this section of La Costa is built to four lanes and the new intersection would have to be torn out.

The City of Encinitas has one catch-all LOS for every two lane street in the City an ADT of 11,000 for a LOS C. The current ADT averaged above and below Sheridan is over 16,000. It is more than clear that this section of La Costa needs to be expanded BEFORE the construction of all the other homes, hotels, etc. Besides being cheaper and more convenient for the residents, it will be significantly safer to do so without the additional trips generated by the on going development.

So given the facts, you would expect the City would have a plan ready to go, a source of funding identified, and be preparing to do the work.

Wrong.

There currently is no plan for the La Costa Expansion and no source of funding. There is no mention of this necessity in the current budget nor was it even discussed in the recent budget hearings. The fact is that the City of Encinitas has a series of priorities that are just more important than infrastructure. They will OK the development, but not do what is necessary to support it.

You may well ask, what happened to the traffic mitigation fees collected from the developers in this area? Good question. The code requires that collected fees “shall be used solely for the construction and reconstruction of Circulation Element streets and traffic facilities developed in conjunction with the new development. [23.94.040A]. So where is the money?

*blogger's note-I drive on La Costa Ave everyday on my work commute. The section between HWY101 and the freeway is reaching a boiling point. The addition of new homes in the surrounding neighorhood combined with people trying to get to the beach, trying to turn left onto Sheridan and Vulcan, people trying enter and exit the nurserys, the gas station, the freeway on and off ramps, will all reach critical mass when the new hotel goes in. It's like the powers that be are eager to develop that area into super suburbia while leaving this tiny section of two lane country road. It's bizarre and worse, it's dangerous. Somebody is going to die soon.

Visit Anderson's La Costa Nursery and buy yourself a sweet lawn gnome click

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tree Attempts to Kill Roadside Bum

"I couldn't take the smell anymore," claimed the eucalyptus tree, "But he got up and staggered off at the last second."








click photos for large view.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Bummer





If I was a millionaire (and sadly I assure you I am not) I would have bought the St. Mark's Lutheran church and had it moved to that big empty lot next to the Leucadian Bar on the coast highway and turned into a jazz venue. That would have been cool, I would even let the Lutherans use it on Sunday mornings.

photos from NCT.com link to story.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

$900,000 for Leucadia Improvements? Sweet!

In a classic case of the squeaky gear getting the oil the city council decided not to bogart the entire budget and is returning money for north Leucadia improvements.

I would like to extend my gratitude towards Mayor Guerin and councilpeeps Stocks, Bond, Houlihan and Dalagher. Many thanks to them. Leucadia will still keep it's beloved funky vibe and look good too. Thank you for helping keep Leucadia beautiful.

From the North County Times: Some activists from the Leucadia community thanked the council for returning $900,000 toward the beautification of North Coast Highway 101.

"Thank you very much," Charles Marvin III, a board member of the Leucadia 101 MainStreet Association, told the council. "We truly appreciate your support."

Encinitas Finance Director Jennifer Smith said earlier funding for the project had been redirected to other capital projects.

"We all agree that would send the wrong message to the (Leucadia) community," Councilman Jerome Stocks said.

With the council's action, the capital budget assigns $3.2 million to North Coast Highway 101 improvements through fiscal 2010-11. Speakers told the council sidewalks are a high-priority item.

"Thank you for keeping that on track," said Linda Neubert of the Leucadia Town Council. "Leucadians walk the walk. We'd like you to keep it safe for us."


Thank you to everyone who letters, called and spoke at the council meeting. It's good to see the HWY 101 business owners take action.

From the Union Tribune: Last night, the council also made changes to the budget in response to community pressure.

For instance, it restored funding for the North Coast Highway 101 beautification and sidewalk construction program. The program will receive its original amount of $500,000 each year for the next five years.

Funding for that project had been reduced because of a shortage of money, but merchants and residents protested vehemently.

After hearing the news, the Leucadia Town Council and Leucadia 101 Mainstreet Association thanked the council for listening.

“It will create a desirable area for visitors and will increase sales and property taxes, said Patricia Bell, president of Leucadia 101 Mainstreet Association.


I really think that the money will be well spent. Remember to do your part and patronize Leucadia merchants. Try to spend your money in Leucadia and not say, Carlsbad. We are all in this together. Shop at Just Peachy and El Torito markets, buy some music at Lou's, get a cool art book at Ducky Waddles, buy a Hobie longboard at Longboard Grotto, eat breakfast at A Little More, take your lowlife drunken slob friends to the Leucadian or Boardroom, treat yourself to the most expensive colored plate at Leucadia Sushi Bar, get a burrito at Karina's, get a smoothie at Mozy's, have yummy chicken soup at La Especial, buy at t-shirt from Shatto, buy a Keep Leucadia Funky licensece plate from Fred Caldwell's Antiques store. Be like me and buy your wife some of that cool Dutch jewelry from Deep Fling and get her flowers from the Plant Lady. Take your stinky pet to the pet groomers, put your guest up in one of the cute coastal motels, get a dozen donuts from Leucadia Donuts for your coworkers, treat yourself and buy a giant tiki for your frontyard and be the envy of all your neighbors, the list goes on and on...


I think it's pretty.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

$69.2 Million Operating Budget, What's Missing?

Okay, the city is looking at an almost 70 million dollar budget including the $19.6 million in borrowing. The budget will pay for new fire stations, a public works center and a 43-acre park. What is missing from this picture?

I haven't heard one person mention the clean water program, or streetlights.

The city tried to raise fees/taxes on both these items. Now that you plucky homeowners rejected these fees they haven't surfaced again in any of the budget discussions. You knew from the get go that the clean water fee wasn't going to clean water, it was going to the park all along.

Also missing is any money for Leucadia, especially North Leucadia.

Coastal North Leucadia has dirt and weeds.

North Leucadia has been the red headed step child of the city of Encinitas for a long time now. You may have noticed that parts of North Leucadia has dirt and weeds.

Because North Leucadia has dirt and weeds some people call it "blighted". But who is responsible for North Leucadia's dirt and weeds?

Many people in and around the city of Encinitas like to mock the Leucadian homeowner, as if the coast highway landscaping is YOUR fault if you own a home on say, Hymettus or Hygeia.

Many people in and around the city of Encinitas like to mock the Leucadian homeowner because the Leucadia Blvd and HWY101 intersection is clusterfucked. As if it is YOUR fault that the intersection doesn't work well because you live on Neptune Ave. It's not your fault that the city extended Leucadia Blvd to El Camino Real without thinking that maybe people would drive west past the golf course and towards the beach.

This attitude is just absurd and this kind of thinking must come to an end.

Why are there dirt and weeds in Leucadia?

Well, the ugliest strip of Leucadia is the train tracks. The train track dirt doesn't belong to any of us, it belongs to the NCTD and there isn't a damn thing anyone can do about it. Downtown Encinitas lucked out on the ugly train tracks because it cuts behind the main downtown area. I remember when I was a kid before The Lumberyard shopping center was built, it looked just like Leucadia. In fact, downtown Encinitas wasn't much better than Leucadia until they did the big streetscape project. Everyone forgets that one eh?

At best maybe the city could plant a hedge along the coast highway obscuring the tracks from view.

What about the rest of the dirt and weeds? Well, some commercial property owners are to blame. It's kind of tough for a nice little restaurant like Wakei to make it when it is directly across from a chainlink fence lot covered in giant weeds. Thank goodness Rancho Santa Fe resident Doug Hardwood is finally selling his weed ridden lots. Hopefully someone keen will buy them and build some nice little business.

But you know, it's hard to sell your commercial property to anyone when there are fears that the property could very well be seized by the city via eminent domain in the next couple of years.

This is why throwing the blighted word around was a horrible thing. The city council has given North Leucadia the stigma of being "blighted" when the reality is North Leucadia has more potential than any other community in southern California.

Was the shabby downtown Encinitas area blighted? No, it just needed some love.

Was shabby Cedros in Solona Beach blighted? No, it just needed some love.

Was shabby Laguna Beach blighted? No, it just needed some love.

Is Leucadia blighted? No, it just needs some love.

The center medians in North Leucadia just need some light landscaping. It bothers me when people mock Leucadians about this. Hell, many Leucadians even donated money to a flower planting project because the city was never going to do it.

The reality is that the El Camino Real area of Encinitas is far uglier than Leucadia and always has been. The mismanaged chaos of the shopping centers and ugly signage, the ugly buildings, the hostile environment towards pedestrians, the horrible aggressive traffic, it's a joke. However, El Camino Real provides a lot of services we all use and lots and lots of tax revenue so we give it a free pass. (I really think that someday the El Camino Real corridor must be beautified and if history is any lesson, it will happen before Leucadia).

Please Encinitas city council, show some love and throw North Leucadia a million bucks or so a year in landscaping. Dirt and weeds is simple problem that is easily solved. If the coast highway portion of Leucadia looks pretty people will stop, visit the restaurants and business and stay in the little motels. It's so simple, yet for some reason it's been so hard.

I have to ask, what was the point of Mayor Guerin flying to Monterey to lobby the Coastal Commission on behalf of the new $15 million dollar hotel at the entryway of North Leucadia if those guest don't have any sidewalks to walk on or landscaping to enjoy? The guest of the hotel are not going to stay holed up, they are going to want to stretch their legs and explore Leucadia, which is a good thing.

The dirt and weeds of North Leucadia do not reflect poorly on the Leucadian homeowner, the dirt and weeds reflect poorly on the city council. Love Leucadia and Leucadia will love you back.

Contact the Encinitas city council, send them a brief polite e-mail or call and ask them not to leave Leucadia landscaping and repair out of this year's mega-budget:

Mayor Christy Guerin
(760) 633-2620
e-mail

Deputy Mayor James Bond
(760) 633-2623
e-mail

Council Member Jerome Stocks
(760) 633-2622
e-mail

Council Member Maggie Houlihan
(760) 633-2621
e-mail

Council Member Dan Dalager
(760) 633-2624
e-mail

City Manager Kerry L. Miller
(760) 633-2600
e-mail

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Mega Developer Sues Encinitas Over Fees (again)

NCT.com story

Developer Barratt American again sues Encinitas over fees

By: ADAM KAYE - Staff Writer

ENCINITAS
---- Developer Barratt American Inc. is suing the city for increasing building and plan-checking fees, even as a related case remains unresolved.

Filed this month in Superior Court, Barratt's lawsuit alleges that Encinitas' approval in December of a revised fee schedule would result "in a massive and unjustified increase in the fees for building permits and plan reviews."

Several city officials contacted Monday said they weren't aware of the lawsuit.

"I hope we can talk to (Barratt) and settle it early and get it resolved," Mayor Christy Guerin said.

The city's fees are at about the midpoint of those charged by other cities in the region.

"It's a little frustrating, to say the least," Guerin said of the lawsuit.

In a related lawsuit, lawyers for the Carlsbad-based builder have argued that Encinitas charges more in fees than it spends to provide the inspection services.

It's hard to feel sorry for Barratt American, they posted record multi-million dollar profits last year and they are major proponent of sprawl in north county, but these same fees do effect the little guy. If you want to build a home you gotta pay these fees too.

Are these fees justified? Well, we know that the city is constantly revenue hungry. The city tries to raises taxes and fees whenever and wherever it can. (Short term rental folk, the city doesn't really care about solving your noise problems but they are licking their chops at collecting fines). The city wants to charge you extra streetlight fees, water fees, building fees, they even kick around the idea of parking meters.

Michael D Pattinson, CEO of Barratt American, writes a bi-weekly opinion column for the North County Times. He whines like a little girl often that his company is always getting sued by grumpy NIMBY's, yet Barratt keeps their lawyers busy with full time work. Barratt is constantly suing local governments. A case of the pot calling the kettle black?


In December, the City Council approved the first adjustment to Encinitas' fees in 11 years, which brought increases ranging from 13 percent to 52 percent. The increase would recover the costs of providing building and plan-check services, officials said at the time.

The Barratt lawsuit asks the court to overturn the City Council's approval of the revised fee schedule.

Encinitas employs the private San Diego-based firm of EsGil Corp. to review plans and inspect buildings.

I think EsGil Corp. does a fine job plan checking. It's easy to figure out if the increased fees are necessary. EsGil has overhead just like any other business. It's a little unclear if EsGil had simply raised it's rates or if the city of Encinitas is pocketing the money.

I like this quote,
"It is the first-time, entry-level home buyer that is most challenged by these fees," Pattinson said. "Any time you add $1,000 to the cost of a house, you're eliminating a certain amount of people to the home-buying opportunity."

When is the last time Barratt and Pattinson built anything in Encinitas that wasn't a million dollar+ McMansion?

Pattinson isn't going to pass the savings on to you if you buy a Barratt home but if he wins this lawsuit it will help you save some money on your next project.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Banner Year for Art Banners



I must admit, I love the art banner project. This year there are some good ones. If you haven't had a chance to investigate them fully while cruising down the coast highway you can scope them out on the DEMA website.

Art Banners

(Sorry about the cheesy headline by the way, I'm trying to keep up with the North County Times. BOOYAH)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Great Headline in NCT

Solana Beach council withholds Fiesta money

I laughed when I read this headline. The word "fiesta" is such a fun word that the idea of it being withheld gave me a chuckle.

But the story got better! NCT.com

Fiesta Del Sol is almost always cloudy and overcast, thus it's nickname Fiesta Del Grunge. I've been to almost Fiesta Del Sol every year for my whole life so I am kicking myself for not going this year because I didn't know Hank III was going to be there.

Hank Williams III is the grandson of the legendary Hank Williams of Your Cheatin' Heart fame.

I think Solona Beach got a little confused on their Hank Williams.



This is Hank Williams, he had so much talent that if had poked him with a pin, talent would have oozed out.



This is Hank Williams Jr. a terrible glam country singer who does that horrible Monday Night Football theme song. He has no talent.



This is Hank Williams III who plays kick ass rockabilly music. He has talent.

I love this quote, "The artist chose to turn (his show) into a demonstration of his disdain for society," said David Carroll, who was master of ceremonies for two-day music festival.

Yep, sometimes artist will sometimes express themselves. Dang that pesky 1st amendment, it strikes again.

I'm buying Hank III's new album at Lou's tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Leucadia, the Red Headed Step Child?

Leucadia group protests reduced budget for improvements

By: ADAM KAYE - Staff Writer NCT.com

ENCINITAS -- A Leucadia group is objecting to plans to reduce funds budgeted to improve North Coast Highway 101, though the Encinitas City Council could reverse the proposed $900,000 takeaway when it meets tonight.

The Leucadia 101 MainStreet Association, which represents merchants and property owners in the Leucadia community, wants more than that.

The group has called for increased funding and for planning of the North Coast Highway 101 Streetscape Program to begin immediately.

"We are frustrated by the fact that other capital improvement programs in the city seem to be once again taking planning and funding priority over our project," board members from the group stated in a letter to the City Council, which was copied to the North County Times.

The planned highway, sidewalk and landscaping improvements between A Street and La Costa Avenue are among nearly 50 projects on the city's capital improvement program. City staffers have proposed funding reductions or increases to 16 of the projects.

The proposed capital program budget reduces funding for the North Coast Highway 101 Streetscape Program from $3.2 million to $2.3 million. The proposal trims $500,000 allocations to $200,000 during the 2008, 2009 and 2010 fiscal years.

Leucadia 101 wants the council to set aside $1 million for the streetscape program during each of those years and wants planning to begin immediately.

"Every day of delay in starting the planning is a day of delay in completing the project," said Charles Marvin III, a Leucadia 101 board member. "So let's go."

A business district striving to improve itself needs sidewalks so that visitors can walk safely to the stores, art galleries and restaurants along the highway. Long segments of the highway have no sidewalks at all.

Encinitas City Manager Kerry Miller said Tuesday that the proposed funding reduction is a "budget exercise," and that the project's budget ---- even if left untouched ---- would fall far short of what is needed to improve nearly three miles of highway.

"We all know that when it comes time to build that project, it will be underfunded," Miller said.

Construction of the full streetscape program is years away, he said.

In the meantime, officials are planning sidewalks along portions of the highway, and a construction proposal should be ready for the council's consideration this summer, Miller said.

"It's not acceptable for Leucadia to have to wait for years for fundamental pedestrian improvements to take place," he said.

The MainStreet group has spearheaded some sprucing up of the highway. It recently coordinated efforts to landscape medians near Leucadia Boulevard and also planted a garden around a newly installed entrance sign.

Elsewhere in Encinitas, Marvin notes, the city has invested substantially to beautify South Coast Highway 101 and Santa Fe Drive.

Merchants and city officials say the $5 million Downtown Encinitas StreetScape Program has paid dividends with increased business and sales tax receipts.

"What about us?" Marvin said. "I've owned property here (in Leucadia) for 30 years and I'm tired of waiting."

The City Council meets at 6 p.m. at 505 S. Vulcan Ave.

If Leucadia received half the love Santa Fe Dr does the community would be improved dramatically. Keep Leucadia Funky does not mean weeds and dirt. Please city council, share the wealth. Imagine, with a little friendly landscaping Leucadia could be a cross between coastal Laguna and Solana Beach's Cedros Design District. It's not rocket science or brain surgery, it's just sidewalks and flowers (last I heard we were still the flower capital of the world, I'm sure we could find some to plant around here somewhere).

Saturday, June 10, 2006

East Encinitas Declared Blighted Due to Evil Weevils



Root weevil found in Encinitas

By: JO MORELAND - Staff Writer

ENCINITAS -- Five ugly bugs found this week on two streets in Encinitas are prompting a request for an agricultural quarantine in the area, authorities said Friday.

NCT story

this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, June 09, 2006

Removal of Mt Soledad Cross Will Increase Vampire Attacks Warn Experts



San Diego-Local vampire slayers are going public this week to warn that the removal of the controversial cross monument on top of Mt. Soledad will drastically increase vampire attacks and could unleash an entire vampire army that will lay waste to the surrounding urban area.

"People think the cross is just a symbol but they don't realize that it is a mystical barrier against the underworld." explained professor Rupert Giles who works as a librarian at the San Diego high school. "Tearing down the cross will unleash hordes of evil minions from the Hellmouth which is located directly below the cross."

Local activist fighting against religious symbols on public land scoffed at Giles claims. "That is just hocus pocus nonsense." said Charles Naday of La Jolla. "Even if the cross really does possess special binding energy power that keeps Morgor the Mighty from rising up and reclaiming his rightful throne it's not constitutional."



Buffy Summers a local teen volunteer and vampire slayer lashed out against the removal of the cross calling anti-cross activist "dweebs who are under the spell of dark forces." Summers complained that she would be the one to "do the dirty work and kill the vampire monsters just like when I had to fight the Puss Demon when they opened Petco park."

Friday, June 02, 2006

How are you spending your $78 refund check?



Refund checks from the city of Encinitas are now in your mailbox returning the money they illegally collected from you. How are you going to spend your check?


Susan Myers, data entry
I'm saving it for the Detour hair salon just in case the new guy here at the office ask me out. I keeping dropping hints that I'm not married.


Tim and Bud, unemployed
I'm taking Bud to Petco and he gets to pick out any toy he wants. Whatever's left I'm using to buy pot.


Bob Johnson, engineer
Poinsettias. Lots and lots of poinsettias.


Helen Frisket, retired school teacher
Viejas baby.